You'll be surprised at how many easy ways to save money there are. No, I'm not talking about never treating yourself to a Starbucks ever again! But you can implement a whole range of savings strategies that may seem small but will have a significant impact over the long term.
Many of us could use a little more discipline regarding our finances. We buy on credit too frivolously or like to make impulse purchases and ignore our savings goals or debt repayment.
But it's never too late to make a start. There are many simple ways to save money in the short and long term.
1. Pay Off Debt
I know it's not that easy. You can't pay off your debt overnight, as it probably took years to accumulate. But you can start making a plan to put a dent in it. Working on a plan to get out of debt can save you thousands of dollars in interest long-term and take the stress of money worries off your plate.
Work on paying down your credit cards without spending on them again. When you can, make extra payments off loan or mortgage principals. Even if it's only $25 here and there, those small amounts quickly add up.
2. Buy With Cash
Buying with cash can help stop impulse buying and make you pause to reflect on the purchase and plan purchases better. You can even save the change you get, and you'll be shocked at the totals you accumulate in just a month or two. One solid trick is to use budget envelopes, separating your money into separate cash envelopes. One for utilities, another for grocery shopping, an envelope for transport costs, and so on. That way, you can't overspend.
3. Make a Budget
Having a budget is critical. If you're struggling to save, you need to be able to see where your money goes each month. Otherwise, financial commitments, subscriptions, and debts can quickly spiral to the point that they're unmanageable.
Write down all of your regular expenses, even if they're small.
Then, look at where you can cut back. You may find you're still paying for an old subscription to a service you don't use anymore. Or perhaps you could save by sharing a prime family account with your partner or roommate rather than each of you paying for an individual account.
4. Make Savings a Line in Your Budget
Even if you can only save a base of 3% of your income each month, ensure it's a line item in your budget. Savings are essential, so make room for them in your budget and make that payment non-negotiable.
5. Don't Blow Windfalls
A windfall can be an insurance settlement, a bonus at work, a gift from friends or relatives, a tax refund, or even a raise in pay. And yes, it'd be nice to take that unexpected cash and splurge, but if you're trying to save or pay off debt, that's a mistake. Think of it as income. That way, you know you need to pay at least whatever percentage you set for savings in your budget into your savings account. Plus, the income percentage you set to clear your debt. Then, you can decide what to do with the rest. For example, you could treat yourself or your loved ones because there's more to life than money, then pay half of the remainder into your savings account and half off your most urgent debt.
6. Save First, Spend Later
When it comes to a significant purchase, plan ahead. Instead of putting in on a credit card and taking years to pay it back, save for it unless it's an urgent purchase. Look at your budget and see how much you can put toward your purchase each month. Then you're not wasting money on credit card interest, and you have the item or vacation you wanted.
Plus, you can then continue to put away the money you were using to save for this purchase into your savings account, and you won't miss it because you're already used to not having it.
7. Meal Plan To Avoid Waste
Meal planning may sound boring, but we throw away so much food. In the U.S., the average family of four throws away $1,600 worth of fresh produce per year. That's a crazy amount of money!
Meal planning and sticking to that plan even when you don't want to helps combat food waste and puts an extra $1,600 in your savings account every year.
Write a grocery list based on your meal plan, and only buy what's on your list. Don't be tempted by offers for fresh produce you'll never use before it expires.
8. Turn Off Auto-Renew
Auto-renew or subscribe and save are convenient features, for sure. And the saving when you subscribe is tempting. But what if you don't need the next month's supply of baked beans? Or, actually, you only signed up for the free trial, and you didn't really like the service? How likely are you to remember to cancel? Set one day per month to review subscriptions and see if anything is coming up that you can cancel or skip.
9. Reduce Temptation by Unsubscribing
Clear out your email! All kinds of stores email us their latest unmissable deals, hoping we'll impulsively click through and make a purchase. But for those of us prone to impulse purchasing, that's a dangerous game, as it makes it way too easy for us to get that dopamine hit! So, do yourself and your bank account a favor and unsubscribe from all those email newsletters you signed up for when you made a purchase.
10. Find Your Weak Spots
Take a long, hard look at your spending. What are your weak spots? Do you overspend on clothes? Shoes? Eating out? Gaming? Drinking? My weaknesses are my dogs and craft supplies. We all have those things where we just can't help ourselves and overspend. And that's okay. But the key to getting that under control is to recognize where those weaknesses are, then set yourself a budget or some kind of “only if” rule. For instance, I do not allow myself to buy new craft supplies until I've finished and sold or gifted an existing project.